by Robin Kemp

Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration Chair Darlene Johnson says the special election for the Board of Commissioners District 1 seat, formerly held by the late Sonna Singleton Gregory, will take place on September 21, 2021. Should a runoff be necessary, that will take place on October 19, 2021. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where is District 1?

Clayton County District 1 includes the northeast corner of the county, most notably:

  • Fort Gillem
  • unincorporated Forest Park east of Jonesboro Road
  • Conley
  • parts of Lake City to the east of Jonesboro Road
  • parts of Morrow surrounding Reynolds Nature Preserve
  • parts of Morrow north and east of I-75
  • Rex
  • Ellenwood

Candidate qualifying

Under Georgia law, you have to have lived in Clayton County for at least 12 months prior to seeking office. You also must be a registered voter, a Georgia citizen, and at least 21 years old (unless the county allows 18-year-olds to run).

If you’ve misappropriated or owe public funds, have been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude within the past 10 years, convicted and sentenced for “fraudulent violation of primary or election laws or malfeasance in office unless such person’s civil rights have been restored,” or are physically or mentally “unfit to discharge the duties of the office.”

Federal officials, other than postmaster and military officers and enlisted personnel, may not run for county commissioner.

Candidate qualifying will take place at the Board of Elections and Registration Office, 121 S. McDonough St., on the main floor of Annex II.

Anyone who lives in District 1 and who wants to run for the seat will need to bring a check or money order for the $1,068 qualifying fee, which is based on a percentage of the current commissioners’ salary–unless the person files a pauper’s affidavit.

Because this is a special election, no write-in candidates are allowed. You also can’t run for two offices at the same time–for example, this race and a city race.

It’s also wise for potential candidates to familiarize themselves with the paperwork needed to qualify.

The dates and hours for qualifying will be:

  • Monday, July 19, 2021: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2021: 9 A.M.-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2020: 9 a.m.-12 noon

Absentee voting

The first day the office will accept applications for absentee ballots by mail will be Monday, July 5 through Friday, September 10.

Absentee voting by mail will take place from Monday August 23 through Friday, September 17.

In-person early voting

In-person early voting will take place at the Board of Elections and Registration Office, 121 S. McDonough. According to the notice, “Additional sites will be added to a future notice.”

During the Elections and Registration Board meeting on June 8, the board discussed additional polling places at Morrow City Hall, Carl Rhodenizer Center, and either the Forest Park Senior Center or the Forest Park Branch Library, depending upon which space is available. However, the final polling locations were not listed in the announcement.

What powers does the BOC have?

The Board of Commissioners has a lot of power. Specifically, members of the BOC have power over:

  • county property
  • levying taxes
  • roads, bridges, and ferries
  • the Tax Commissioner’s books and the list of insolvent properties
  • settling claims against the County
  • examining and auditing the county’s money (claims and accounts)
  • electing and appointing minor county officers
  • control and management of county inmates
  • overseeing county employee insurance plans
  • paying for county employees’ or elected officials’ job-related training expenses
  • regulate land use through zoning
  • call elections for bond issues
  • give the probate judge power to act on the county’s behalf
  • exercise all county-level powers under Georgia law and the Constitution
  • set fees, charges, taxes, and regulations for businesses in the county
  • adopt rules for the board’s own operation
  • set fines and punishment for zoning violations
  • preserve and protect county recreation facilities and decide who gets to run county facilities and how people should use them
  • adopt fire safety regulations and set penalties and punishment for violations
  • regulate signs, billboards, trees, shrubs, fences, buildings, and obstructions on county right of way and roadsides
  • prevent “idleness, loitering, vagrancy, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and disturbing the peace,” as well as lotteries, in unincorporated Clayton County
  • prohibit or regulate other behavior “deemed by the board to be detrimental and offensive to the peace, good order, and dignity of Clayton County and to the welfare and morals of the citizens thereof”
  • sign off on transportation for county officials and employees doing the county’s business
  • set rules for controlling domestic animals in unincorporated Clayton County, as well as penalties for violations
  • “exercise other powers as are granted by law or are indispensable to the carrying out of the provisions of this Act”

You can read what the county code says about the Board of Commissioners at

For updates about procedures and locations for the BOC District 1, visit